By Blake Friis
It turns out distance – and a lovely salmon dinner interrupted by an intensifying fire in the vicinity of your wood deck – can make the heart grow fonder.
My mother-in-law swears salt is a highly effective tool for combating small grease fires. At her urging, I threw a tremendous amount of it at the camping grill on our patio while the flames rose higher and the fire grew hotter and, I swear to God, laughed at me. When the salt remedy – or possibly my mother-in-law’s elaborate attempt to murder me – failed, my father-in-law grabbed an extinguisher and put out the fire; not in time to save the grill, but at least before the flames teamed up with the propane tank to royally fuck up Thanksgiving.
Standing over the smoldering mass of hot metal and melted plastic covered in a uniquely soothing layer of white fire extinguisher residue, I couldn’t help but think about what else I’d be willing to light on fire to create more moments like this.
Memorable moments are at a premium when you live 800 miles from your parents.
We moved from Iowa to Dallas for a lot of reasons, not the least of which was the burning desire to no longer live in Iowa. It is this mentality that leads so many people away from their small towns for a dose of big city living, only to return to the previously taken-for-granted comforts of home. I knew this when we visited Dallas for a week and returned with a lease. I knew the seemingly impulsive nature of our move set the over/under for our time in Texas at one year with heavy weight on the under.
Despite professional advancements and a renewed personal happiness, several family members continued to believe the move was temporary. The belief was that we would move closer to home when we decided to start a family.
That might have been the case if our only reason for moving was an entertaining change of pace, but there was more to it than that.
Moving was not about proving something to myself or anyone else, it was about finding a place that allowed me to become the person I had been unable to become in my hometown. As I drove the moving truck out of town, I didn’t know if Texas was going to be the long-term answer, but I knew, based on 26 years of trial and (mostly) error, the Iowa chapter of my life would remain in the rearview mirror.
The better things have gone in Texas, the easier it has been to detach from Iowa. Texas has become home and Iowa is the place our parents live. We go back for Christmas and try to make it sometime in the summer as well. And that feels like plenty for us, but having a child complicates the matter.
The theory of quality over quantity was on display while we watched my in-laws interact with Gabe for an entire week – with the exception of the 15 minutes spent dueling with a three-alarm grease fire – over Thanksgiving.
Our parents are going to miss certain parts of their grandson growing up, and that is unfortunate. We are going to have limited opportunities to utilize their inherent babysitting and diaper changing abilities, and that is absolutely tragic. But the moments we are able to spend together are twice as meaningful, and that is a unique blessing.
Many people in my position end up moving home with a new appreciation for the life they once took for granted. I am creating a home with an enhanced appreciation for life’s little moments, and I don’t dare take that for granted.